27th Jul2020

‘Stargirl 1×10: Brainwave Jr.’ Review

by Jason Brigger

Stars: Brec Bassinger, Luke Wilson, Amy Smart, Yvette Monreal, Anjelika Washington, Trae Romano, Christopher Baker, Neil Jackson | Created by Geoff Johns

Two years ago, in Blue Valley, a single Pat and a single Barbara are sitting in adjoining diner seats when they both order the same type of milkshake. The coincidence sparks up a conversation between them and when the waitress tells them they only have enough for one banana milkshake, it results in them sharing the milkshake and the rest is history. Fast forward to present day and as we saw last week, Barbara walked in on Courtney and Pat talking to the Cosmic Staff. The secret is now out and Pat reveals everything about Starman, Icicle, the Cosmic Staff and any other superhero shenanigans. Once Barbara learns the truth, she is less than enthused about the turn of events, especially when Courtney insists her father was Starman. Barbara doesn’t trust Pat anymore and when she learns Pat lied and Courtney wasn’t really hurt in a car accident, she kicks Pat out.

In the hospital, Henry Sr. has awakened from his coma but cannot remember the last ten years of his life. His son, Henry Jr. does his best to get his father to remember, even bringing up the drowning death of his mother in the family’s swimming pool. It’s a touching scene and made even better when his father learns that Henry Jr. has the gift to read minds and promises to train him. Henry Jr. leaves his father to go back to their house to rummage through the collection of VHS training videos to learn more about his mother’s drowning. The VHS tapes reveal Henry Jr.’s mother, Merry, was an actually nice woman and according to Henry Sr., of “pure thoughts”. She was so good that it made Henry Sr. question Jordan/Icicle’s plan for revenge. The twist though? Merry’s brother was actually Starman! When the ISA killed Starman, it caused Merry to revolt against the ISA, which eventually ended in her death.

Jordan visits Henry Sr. in the hospital and asks Henry Sr. to join their cause again to fulfill the master plan of Dragon King/Dr. Ito. Henry Sr. has reservations but before he can decide, the Cosmic Staff shows up at the hospital, without a “master”, in an attempt to take out the villains. Unbeknownst to his father, Henry Jr. watches from the hallway as Jordan freezes the staff, taking it and Henry Sr. to the ISA lair.

The next morning, Courtney cannot find the staff and when she asks for help from her mother, Barbara advises her that they are leaving Blue Valley and Pat due to safety concerns. Courtney then goes to the garage to seek Pat’s help, but he agrees with Barbara and that he didn’t think this through, as he put their family in jeopardy. After Pat leaves, Mike asks Courtney what is really happening and why the family is breaking up. She states she cannot tell him and that results in him feeling Courtney never wanted him there and they aren’t really a family. Again, can we please have more Mike, the voice of reason, in the second season?

Pat stops by Barbara’s work to reconcile and nothing says forgiveness like bonding over whether your boss is a supervillain. Barbara sends an e-mail to Courtney’s real father, who just might actually be Starman, but before we get any real answers, Jordan and his parents arrive at the office. Barbara, using her cell phone, records Jordan’s parents speaking Norwegian as she wants to learn the truth about them. Later at the diner where Pat and Barbara first met at, they decipher that Jordan’s parents were discussing the master plan and bringing pain to the world. Finally, Barbara realizes that Jordan is a super-villain and even leaving Blue Valley won’t protect them.

Courtney’s search for the staff leads her to Henry Jr and after he tells Courtney that the staff is at the ISA lair, the duo decide to team up. Convincing Courtney is one thing but convincing her team is another as Rick and Yolanda don’t trust Henry Jr. Eventually, they agree to work together as they want to make sure Courtney is safe, but Yolanda ends their friendship as she feels Courtney picked Henry Jr. over her.

The new JSA, in costume, and Henry Jr. infiltrate the ISA’s lair but they make the first mistake in any mission, they split up! Henry Jr, Stargirl, and Wildcat go one way while Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite go a different way and run into Solomon Grundy’s cell. Hourman, seeking revenge for Grundy killing his parents, wants to do the dumbest thing possible and open up the cell in order to seek revenge. Luckily, they are interrupted by Dragon King’s drones before he can let out Grundy.

Stargirl and her two partners eventually find the center of the lair, with Brainwave strapped to a table, and are quickly surrounded by Dragon King’s drones. They all attack ninja-style (one by one) but it does make for a nice action scene and one of the first we see of Stargirl and Wildcat together. Dragon King and Stargirl face-off and she more than holds her own. Eventually Dragon King’s experience turns the tide but luckily Wildcat is able to find the Cosmic Staff in the lair and tosses it to Stargirl, saving her from death, Using the Cosmic Staff, Stargirl knocks Dragon King to the ground and sends his mask flying away. After many teases, we finally get to see his hidden face and well, it’s green and reptile-like. I was hoping for snakes, but this works too.

Henry Jr. runs off with the rest of the JSA, but they get lost in the tunnels and trapped between a fence and Brainwave. Henry Jr. saves Stargirl from his father and tries to reason with him but his pleas fall on deaf ears. Henry Jr. refuses to join the ISA and in a shocker, Brainwave admits that he was the one that killed Henry Jr.’s mother as she was making him become weak and lose focus on the master plan. Brainwave gives his son an ultimatum: join him or die.

Henry Jr. refuses again and Brainwave, true to his word, kills him. His final words to the JSA: “You’re right, people are good. Don’t let this change you.” It’s a true shocker and one I wasn’t expecting. The scene was shot beautifully, and his final words confirm that Courtney had a true impact on Henry Jr., and he did change. After starting as a one-note bully, Henry Jr. turned into an interesting supporting character that I will miss.

Easter Eggs:

  • Merry. Henry Jr.’s mother, Merry, is a reference to Starman’s sister in the comic books that went by the superhero name, Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks. Her comic book heroism was short-lived, but here’s hoping we see a little more of her crime-fighting ways in the television series.

One Good Thing:

  • Parents. The theme throughout the season is parental guidance and that is reflected whether the parents are supervillains or superheroes. The overall love they each have for their children, well maybe not Cindy’s father, and their approach to help guide them in learning their superpowers is fantastic. Pat and Jordan, even though they are on opposite end of the spectrums, truly want their children to live the best life they can and know the powers are a curse and a blessing. It’s a nice change of pace to see that the villains are not pure evil and do have a separate life outside of taking over the world.

Grade: B (Good)

I sound like a broken record but Stargirl continues its streak of strong episodes again. The new JSA coming together and fighting the ISA, though only briefly, is a nice teaser for the upcoming bigger battle later in the series. With Henry Jr.’s death, the new JSA now having a reason to band together (and have Pat and Barbara fully support them), and completes their origin story. Barbara was finally let in on Courtney and Pat’s secret and she actually had a storyline this week, which the series has been missing out on all season. Overall, the series continues to be fun and continues to gain momentum.

You can catch Jason Brigger on the geek-centric podcast, The History of Bad Ideas, as new episodes are released every week at www.nerdly.co.uk or subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other podcasting apps. You can listen to their latest episode right here.

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